How to complain to the council
We aim to provide a high standard of service to all our customers, but we know that we don't always get it right first time. To improve services, we need to know when you are not happy with any part of the service you have received from us or our contractors.
If you feel that the service we have provided has fallen below the standard you expect, please complain.
We will thoroughly investigate your complaint, and it will not affect the service we provide to you.
What happens when you make a formal complaint?
Your complaint will go through the following procedure:
Stage one - We will confirm receipt of your complaint within two working days and will pass it to the relevant head of service. We will also establish what outcome you are seeking if that is not already clear. The head of service will then investigate your complaint and let you know the outcome within 20 calendar days.
If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, you can escalate your complaint to stage two.
Stage two - The next step is to write to the chief executive, within six weeks of the date of the stage one response, and ask for your complaint to be investigated further. You must explain why you are dissatisfied with the original response. We will let you know we have received your request and will pass it a member of the strategic management board (this will not be the strategic director who is responsible for the service your complaint relates to). The member of the board will investigate your complaint and advise you of the outcome within 20 calendar days.
Please note that your complaint and the council's response will be copied to your local ward councillor(s) so that they can represent the interests of their constituents, carry out case work more effectively, act as an advocate in resolving concerns or grievances and better understand the work of the council.
If, after following this procedure, you are still not satisfied with the outcome, you can refer it to the Local Government Ombudsman via their websiteby calling 0300 061 0614. The LGO provides a free, impartial and independent service.
If you are unable to put forward your complaint in writing, due to disability or limited English, please call us on 01235 422099.
Complaints about planning, licensing and benefits decisions
Many of the general complaints we receive are specifically about planning applications. In our experience, some people who have applied for planning permission use the general complaints procedure because they are not happy with the council turning down their application. The general complaints procedure is not usually appropriate because these people have the legal right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. In these circumstances, we will usually choose not to deal with the complaint under the general complaint procedure, referring the complainant to the separate planning appeal process. This also applies to complaints about decisions on licensing applications or applications for benefits, which use separate complaint processes.
How we have dealt with complaints
In September each year the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee receives a report that reviews complaints received during the previous year. By analysing the complaints the committee can identify any trends and suggest any service improvements. You can view a copy of the report for 2013/14 from the downloads menu.
Last reviewed: 23 - 05 - 2016